When Richard VanGrunsven began modifying the airplane he bought while serving in the Air Force, he never dreamed of launching what would become one of the most successful kitplane businesses ever.
Like many do-it-yourself types, VanGrunsven simply wanted to improve what he had — in this case, a 65-horsepower airplane known as a Stits Playboy. He started by installing a bigger engine to provide more speed and climbing capability. He modified the wings so it could take off and land in a shorter distance. The newly modified airplane would be known as the RV-1.
Since the RV-1 was a bit of a hybrid, VanGrunsven couldn't get all the performance he wanted from the airplane. He was looking for something that could use a small runway (especially the one at his family farm), had sufficient power and maneuverability to perform basic aerobatics and could maintain a good to cruise speed. He would later call this ideal blend of features "total performance."
Nothing he saw delivered what he wanted, so VanGrunsven decided to design and build his own airplane from scratch. The result was the single-seat RV-3, an example of which is pictured above.
Van's Aircraft was born.
Photo: Van's Aircraft